Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan

2013 Winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature

An orphaned Chinese boy joins a caravan to explore the desert and hopefully find out more about his father. A grand adventure set on the fabled trade route.

Chengli is an orphaned errand boy who lives in Chang’an China in 630 A.D. His mother has died from illness and his father is presumed dead after disappearing into the desert when Chengli was a baby.

Now thirteen, Chengli feels ready for independence. He is drawn to the desert, beckoned by the howling of strange winds and the hope of learning something about his father—who he was and how he died.

Chengli joins the caravan to travel down the merchant route known as the Silk Road, but it is a dangerous life, as his father knew. The desert is harsh, and there are many bandits, particularly drawn to Chengli’s caravan because a princess, her servants, and royal guards are traveling with them. This story invites readers to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of this fabled desert route.


Middle Grade | Ages 8 & up
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-933718-54-5 | 184 pages | $14.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-933718-78-1 | 176 pages | $8.95
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-933718-62-0 | $8.95
Guided Reading Level: X | Grade Level: 6 & up | Reading Recovery Level: NA

Meet the Author


Hildi KangHildi Kang is a former educator, a writer, and active traveler, having made trips by foot, bike, and llama. An early love of books and maps led to dreams of the blue-domed mosques of Samarkand and the donkey market in Kashgar. In the 1990s, the borders of previous Communist country opened, and Hildi, her husband, and two companions (plus driver and interpreter), spent a month following the trade routes around the Taklamakan desert in the northwest province of China and crossing into Uzbekistan to follow the road from the cities of Khiva to Samarkand.

Hildi Kang is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and as an educator, she taught elementary Special Education. Her writing includes five books for elementary school teachers, an entry in Fire and Wings, the dragon anthology of Cricket Books, and two academic books on Korean history.

When not writing or traveling, she hikes, bikes, and plays cello in a local orchestra. She and her family lived many years in the town of Clarence Center near Buffalo, New York, and currently reside in Livermore, California.

Author Website

Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan Reviews



“This fast-paced adventure is filled with friendship, historical detail, changing scenery, and action. It will appeal to a wide range of readers.”
School Library Journal

“Cultural practices and beliefs are detailed, and descriptions depict the setting and era…this is reminiscent of the work of Lloyd Alexander…readers who forge ahead will enjoy an interesting adventure.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Hildi Kang’s captivating story brings the pathways and cities of the historical Silk Road to life while offering vivid lessons in tenacity, integrity, and friendship.”
Nan Kim, Asst. Professor of History, University of Wisconsin

“Hilda Kang has written a young adult historical fiction novel that will thrill every reader who loves stories about young, heroic characters living in exotic lands of long ago. Delightful!”
Historical Novel Society